Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 225

The Interior Ministry (MVD) is reportedly set to undergo a restructuring which will likely take its sub-units out of the hands of regional leaders and possibly bring the ministry under stricter control by President Vladimir Putin. Last week, General-Lieutenant Vyacheslav Brycheev, head of the MVD’s department of personnel and personnel policy, said that Putin would soon sign a decree creating a “federal criminal committee” within the ministry. All of the ministry’s operational services–except for the anti-economic crimes, the antinarcotics and criminal investigations departments–would be put under this new committee, Brycheev said. The new structure would include the anti-organized crime department, the internal security department and the anti-high-technology crimes department, among others. According to one account, the plan Brycheev outlined was a defensive move on the part of Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, made in response to a restructuring plan being pushed by the “Chekists”–as the group of veteran St. Petersburg KGB officers within the government and presidential administration is known in the Russian press. The “Chekists” are said to be pushing for a plan by which the MVD’s main anti-organized crime department will be merged with the anti-economic crimes, antinarcotics and anti-high-technology crimes departments, and various sub-units of the Federal Security Service, to form a new and separate federal anticorruption and anti-organized crime agency. The rival MVD restructuring plans appear to be part of a broader struggle between the “Chekists” and the “Family,” the group of Yeltsin-era Kremlin insiders who continue to wield varying degrees of power. Rushailo is said to have become interior minister in part thanks to the efforts of Boris Berezovsky, the powerful tycoon and “Family” member who more recently has fallen out with Putin.

Regardless of whether Rushailo’s restructuring plan or that of his rivals prevails, the resulting new MVD committee or independent agency is likely to have its own subdivisions in each of the country’s recently created federal districts and eighty-nine regions, which the federal budget will fund. This will make it more difficult for regional political administrations to wield the kind of influence over these subdivisions that they currently have over the MVD’s regional branches (Segodnya, Vremya novostei, November 29; Izvestia, December 2).